“Mithrandir.” Silvren muttered as she scrambled to her feet and pulled the stray leaves from her hair.
“Yes, that was my name.” he murmured. “But now I am the White Wizard.”
“Saruman?” Pippin asked with a confused expression on his face.
“Rather Saruman as he should have been.”
“Oh.” Came Pippin’s faint reply.
“Tree-beard will keep you safe for I have business elsewhere.” Gandalf said to them.
“What about Uglúk?” Silvren asked as she tried to find any evidence of the Uruk.
“He will be fine in a few days. I will be taking him to Edoras with me.” replied Gandalf.
“Edoras? Of Rohan?” Silvren asked with sudden interest.
“You are worried about the others, are you not?” Gandalf asked with a small twinkle in his blue eyes.
“Yes I am.” Silvren said quietly, blushing as she glanced at the ground. “I just don’t know when I’ll be able to see them again.”
“If you’d like, you could ride my horse to Edoras with Uglúk and tell Lady Eówyn that Gandalf sent you to be in her care.” he smiled.
“Really? But how would you get there?” she asked.
“Shadowfax will come right back to me.”
“Thank you!” Silvren cried throwing her arms around his neck.
“You’re welcome, my dear child.”
* * *
Two days had come and gone and now Elladan stood in his room making his final preparations for his trip to Rohan. When he was finished he decided there was one last thing to do before he could leave with Elrohir and Glorfindel. Elladan left his father’s house and walked towards the small house where Anariel and her father resided. His heart was beating faster with nervousness as he stood before the wooden door. He knew Anariel was in there and he knew he had come here to say goodbye to her but what if she didn’t want to say goodbye to him. His thoughts consumed him and he stood there frozen in time.
“Elladan?” a small, quiet voice asked from behind him.
Elladan whipped around to see Anariel standing several feet away from him with a basket of berries clasped in her hands. He could sense that she was uneasy at this meeting and he knew he was too. “I came to tell you goodbye and that I hope we will meet again soon.”
Anariel nodded her head as silent tears slid down the sides of her pale face. Much to her and Elladan’s surprise she ran at him and threw her arms around his neck; her tears coming faster. “Oh, Elladan, I’m so sorry for the pain I’ve caused you. It’s just I wasn’t expecting it and you caught me off guard.” she cried into his neck.
Elladan smiled as he wrapped his arms around her slender body. “It’s okay.”
“Please be careful.” she sniffed as she pulled away and gazed up into his blue eyes.
“I will.” he replied and gently kissed her on the lips.
* * *
Silvren said her good byes to Treebeard and the two hobbits as Gandalf said a few whispered words to Shadowfax.
“Be careful and quick. Do not stop to rest unless absolutely needed.” Gandalf advised her as he helped her onto Shadowfax’s back. “And see that no one seeks to harm Uglúk though I’m sure he’ll win over their favors in no time at all.” Gandalf smiled as he placed the half-conscious Uglúk in front of her.
“I will see to it that no harm is done to him.”
“Good girl. Oh, and beware of Théoden’s advisor. He is foul and has a forked tongue. Do not listen to anything he has to say.”
Silvren nodded as Gandalf patted her on the knee. “I have great faith in you.” he said and then turned to Shadowfax. “Make haste.” he said to Silvren.
Silvren nodded and clutched Shadowfax’s white mane in one hand and held onto Uglúk with the other as the horse leapt ahead at full speed.
Shadowfax ran swiftly over the rigid terrain as the sun slowly began to sink in the western sky. A slight chill spread through the air as the night clouds rolled in and the pale moon shone brighter and brighter as the sun sank lower and lower.
Silvren was growing weary as she rode on but she refused to stop as Gandalf had advised. Shadowfax on the other hand, showed no sign of slowing down as the night grew old and the stars shone brightly in the sky.
* * *
“Pgh. Orc blood.” Gimli spat as they walked through Fangorn Forest.
Aragorn leapt across a small rippling creek followed by Legolas as they continued walking around trees and rocks and under low-lying branches.
“These are strange tracks.” Aragorn said, kneeling upon the ground.
“The air is close in here.” Gimli said as he stopped in between two trees.
“This forest is old. Very old.” Legolas said softly as he looked about the forest. “Full of memory… and anger.” he muttered.
A loud moaning sounded from the trees and Gimli pulled his axe from out of his belt and glanced frantically around the forest
“The trees are speaking to each other.” Legolas said and turned to look at Gimli at the same time as Aragorn turned to look at the dwarf.
“Gimli.” Aragorn hissed. “Lower your axe.” he said as he raised and lowered his hand.
Slowly and reluctantly, Gimli lowered his axe.
“They have feelings, my friend.” Legolas said kindly. “The Elves began it. Waking up the forest and teaching them to speak.”
“Talking trees?” Gimli muttered. “What do they have to talk about? Except the consistency of squirrel droppings.”
Legolas looked around then stopped. “Aragorn, something is out there.” he switched to elvish as he quickly walked past Aragorn and stopped at the top of a ridge.
Aragorn followed him and then stood at his side. “What do you see?” he whispered in elvish.
“The White Wizard approaches.” Legolas whispered switching back to common tongue.
“Do not let him speak. He will put a spell on us.” Aragorn warned then as he discreetly placed his hand on his hilt and pulled it out several inches.
Gimli pulled out his throwing axe and held it close to his body as Legolas fingered the arrow that was notched to his bow. His eyes darting about the mysterious forest for any sign of the wizard.
“We must be quick.” Aragorn said quietly.
* * *
Red and orange shafts of light spread across the plains as Shadowfax took Silvren and Uglúk across the golden grass.
Silvren lifted her tired eyes and saw a wide green plain before her with white-tipped mountains in the background. A lonely hill sat in the middle of the plain with a thick picket fence encircling the grassy hill.
Thatched roves rose above the tall fence and a shimmer of gold shone brightly in the sunlight.
Silvren rode up through the front gate and trotted through the town. Many of the villagers stopped what they were doing and stared at her in wonder as she passed by. Clearly none of them had seen an elf before, especially in her condition with an unconscious orc riding in front of her.
At length she came to the top on which the great hall stood. Silvren climbed off of Shadowfax’s back and beckon for one of the guards to help her with Uglúk. The guard came and reluctantly helped her with Uglúk and then she watched as Shadowfax took off again.
“I am Háma, the doorward of Théoden. Do you carry any weapons?”
“No.” Silvren said weakly as she followed Háma up the steps.
“Who is it you wish to see?” he asked.
“Gandalf has sent me to seek Lady Eówyn’s care.”
Háma nodded his head in approval. “Follow me.” he said as another guard opened the heavy doors that were carved with gold swirling vines. The hinges creaked as he swung the great doors inward and Silvren was engulfed by what seemed to be an unwelcoming darkness followed by the warmth of the fire that sat in the middle of the hall. Silvren noted with great interest that the hall was long and wide with mighty gold inlaid pillars that lined the center of the hall. The sun shone through the small eastern windows and upon the walls hung many colorful woven banners bearing different images including horses prancing and the symbol of Rohan. Háma led Silvren down the hall and towards a small door at the other end of the hall in the corner of the room. No one else except a few servants were in the hall. The young maidens kept glancing over at Silvren and Háma and kept whispering to each other. Silvren sighed as she followed Háma down a long, fairly narrow hall. She wasn’t use to women whispering about her and it made her feel very uncomfortable. Silvren noted that torches that hung on the wall lit the hallway.
Háma stopped at a closed door and knocked lightly upon the wood. “My lady, there is someone here to see you.” he said softly.
After a few seconds the door slowly opened and a slender and tall woman stood behind the opened door. She had long hair like a river of gold. Her face was fair and almost cold looking. She wore a white dress and a gold belt that hung down the front of her dress.
“This orc needs to be tended to.” Háma said as he gazed down at the body in his arms with a poorly disguised look of disgust.
“I will tend to him if you will not. He just needs a place to lie.” Silvren spoke up before the woman could say anything.
“Bring him to the empty room.” Eówyn said and led them down the hall to a small room that lay empty except a single bed, table and chair. Háma laid Uglúk down in the bed and then left.
“How may I help you?” Eówyn asked, looking Silvren over.
“Gandalf sent me to seek your care.”
“The Grey Pilgrim?” asked Eówyn.
“Yes. Please I am very weary and haven’t eaten for days. Two of my companions and I were captured by orcs.” Silvren told her.
“And what about him?” Eówyn nodded towards the unconscious Uglúk. “What are we to do with him?”
“He saved me and my companions. I think there’s more to him than what meets the eyes.” Silvren said softly as she gazed upon the orc.
“Are any of your companions with you?”
“No. They stayed in Fangorn.” Silvren said to which Eówyn raised an eyebrow but said nothing.
“All right. Let’s get you cleaned up and something to eat.” Eówyn smiled.
* * *
All at once Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli turned around. Aragorn drew forth his sword and Legolas aimed his arrow at the bright white figure in front of them. Gimli threw his axe at the wizard who easily deflected it with his staff as well as Legolas’ arrow. The hilt to Aragorn’s sword grew hot as if it was on fire and he dropped it to the ground with a soft clang.
“You track the footsteps of two young hobbits and an Elven-maiden.” the figure said. His voice was deep and sounded a lot like Saruman, the last person they wanted to encounter.
“Where are they?” Aragorn asked.
“They passed this way the day before yesterday. They met someone they did not expect. Does that comfort you?” the white figure asked in a slightly teasing manner.
“Who are you?” Aragorn asked quietly. “Show yourself!” he demanded.
The bright light faded and Gandalf stepped forward. His hair was long and straight and unlike the grey hair and beard he bore before, it was now as white as a winter’s snow. He wore a matching white robe and carried white staff that was very different from his original staff.
“It cannot be.” Aragorn muttered in disbelief.
“Forgive me.” Legolas said. “I mistook you for Saruman.” he said as he knelt before Gandalf.
“I am Saruman. Or rather Saruman as he should have been.”
“But you fell. I saw you fall, all of us did.” Aragorn said with a confused expression on his face.
“Through fire…and water. From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak I fought with the Balrog of Morgoth. Until at last I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountain side. Darkness took me and I strayed out of thought and time. Stars wheeled overhead and every day was as long as a life age of earth. But it was not the end. I felt life in me again. I’ve been sent back until my task is complete.” Gandalf told them.
“Gandalf.” Aragorn said stepping towards him.
“Gandalf?” the wizard asked confused for a minute. “Ah, yes, that is what they use to call me.” he said with a slight smile. “Gandalf the Grey. That was my name.”
“Gandalf.” Gimli smiled.
“I am Gandalf the White and I came back to you now at the turn of the tide.”
* * *
Eówyn led Silvren down the hall to a room were two other women waited. In the middle of the room was a big, round tub that was set in the floor. Steam rose from the water and evaporated in the air. Fluffy white towels were folded neatly upon a wooden bench. A rough looking scrub brush and a bar of cream colored soap sat on a tray atop the bench. The room smelled heavily of different flowers and herbs.
“This is Alrisren and Rowen. They will bathe you.” Eówyn said as she introduced Silvren to the two middle-age women.
“Bathe me?” Silvren inquired. “Can I not bathe myself?”
“I know how you feel for I feel the same way but it is a tradition in the noble house and we must abide by it.” Eówyn said kindly. “Ladies.” she said clapping her hands together. “I’ll be back with a dress for Lady Silvren.” she said and slowly backed away and left.
Silvren struggled against the two women who insisted on undressing her and bathing her.
“Hold still, my lady.” one of them giggled.
“It’s just going to be harder on you.” the other said.
Finally, after a minute of struggling, Silvren gave in and the women finished undressing her. Silvren walked over to the steaming tub and dipped one foot in and let the hot water ripple around her foot. Slowly, she descended into the water, her olive complected skin turning pink from the heat of the water.
“Oh dear, you forgot your hair-band.” One of the women said as she gently tugged at the leather band.
“Hold your breath.” The other woman said as she placed her hands on top of Silvren’s head and pushed her under the water. The hot water on her face shocked her and she gasped for air as soon as she came back up.
At once the women began scrubbing her hair and body with the soap. She cringed as the rough brush scrapped against her skin and left her pink skin red. The water in the tub became a mucky color from the grime of traveling and fighting.
“Hold your breath, dearie.” A woman said and Silvren held her breath as both women dumped buckets of water on her head to wash away the soap suds.
“All right, up you go.” one said as they helped her up and out of the water. The cold air came as a shock to Silvren and her teeth began to chatter as the women brought over the white towels. Silvren tightly wrapped a towel around her body and looked up at the sound of Eówyn entering the room. Eówyn carried a brown dress with a green and gold Rohirrian design embroidered along the squared neckline and a thin chemise to go under the dress.
“They will help you dress after they dry you off. I will take your clothes and have them cleaned for you.” Eówyn said before she left again.
Silvren dried her torso as Rowen dried her hair and the other women dried her arms and legs. Once she was dry they helped her into the undergarments and then the chemise. Rowen continued drying and brushing her hair while Alrisren helped her into the brown dress and laced up the back.
“Come, I’ll take you to your room and there I will fix your hair.” Rowen said and led Silvren out of the room and down the hall. Silvren followed Rowen to a room that lay across from the room Uglúk lay in.
“Here you go, my lady.” Rowen said as she opened the door for Silvren.
The room was fairly dark with one small window along the outside wall. The walls were darkly stained wood and had green banners and red banners hanging on either side of the room. The bed was made of the same wood had a mattress and pillows filled with feathers. Many fine pelts were laid across the bed for warmth on the cool, windy nights.
Rowen directed Silvren over to a wooden chair that sat in front of a small dresser and an old square mirror. Silvren sat down in the chair and watched in the mirror as Rowen gently pulled a wooden brush through her hair.
“Your hair is so soft.” Rowen cooed. “I’ve never felt anything so soft before.”
“Thank you.” Silvren replied quietly.
“Come.” Rowen said as she had finished brushing and redoing Silvren’s hair. “A hot meal awaits you in the hall.”
Rowen led Silvren to the hall where Eówyn was setting two plates down on the wooden table.
“Take a seat, my Lady.” Rowen said pointing to one of the wooden chairs. Silvren sat down in the chair as Eówyn sat down across from her. Slowly and quietly they began eating the decent meal of roasted chicken, boiled potatoes, and cooked green beans.
“Do you have any siblings?” Eówyn asked Silvren after she had swallowed a bite of her potato.
“Yes. I have two older brothers and an older sister. I also have a foster-brother who’s younger than me.”
“Are any of your brothers attractive?” Eówyn smiled.
“Fairly, but of course I’m their sister so I don’t think about them like that.”
“Of course not!” Eówyn laughed, which she hadn’t done in a long time.
“Do you have any siblings?” Silvren asked in return.
“Yes, an older brother, but he was banished from Edoras.” she said quietly.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Silvren whispered.
“It wasn’t anything he had done. It was Gríma’s fault. He poisons the mind of the king and convinced him to banish Éomer.”